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Squashed

April 6, 2015

Don’t get me wrong, my kids totally eat vegetables. Both love sweet peas in the pod. When the pods are young and in season, the children will gobble them up whole. Off-season I’ll saute the pods whole in a pan, and the whole batch is easily devoured.

Little Miss Fussy has a newfound love for heirloom carrots. She loves their fanciful colors. Seriously, who can resist purple carrots with a yellow core when they are sliced into sticks?

Young Master Fussy cannot abide the crunch of raw carrots, but he loves them soft after being roasted and caramelized in the oven. I can sneak cabbage and onions into his favorite fried rice preparation. And he’ll gladly eat a bowl of frozen sweet peas (gently warmed in simmering water) when the fresh ones aren’t in season.

They’ll both eat broccoli in moderation. Celery was recently discovered to be delicious filled with peanut butter. Pan fried French string beans get finished without complaint. Corn may not officially count as a vegetable, but that goes over well on the cob (in season) or sauteed with bacon or pancetta (from bags of frozen corn during the winter).

Still, I’d like to see a bit more diversity in their vegetable consumption, so I tried the following.

Everyone says to let the children be engaged in the process of picking out vegetables to eat. So I brought the children along to the Schenectady Greenmarket. At the end of winter, pickings are slim. But Migliorelli Farm (home to the famous broccoli rabe) had a lovely selection of winter squash.

Little Miss Fussy thought the yellow acorn squash were the prettiest. So we picked up two of those to bring home. For our first night seder, I decided to make these the most delicious version of squash known to man.

So first, I split them in half, removed the seeds, oiled, salted, and roasted them. The edges caramelized, and flesh softened. When the squash were cool enough to touch, I scooped out the flesh and put it in a saucepan. To that I added a restaurant-sized dollop of butter, more Grade B maple syrup than I care to admit, and enough salt to strike a craveable sweet and savory balance.

Even though the mixture was relatively smooth, I decided to take it a step further with my new immersion blender. In the end, this produced a silky puree that may have tasted more of caramelized sugar and butter than anything that actually grew in the ground.

The kids still just weren’t into it.

Well, the little ones are with their gramma now in Providence. Surely they are feasting on meatballs and macaroni and cheese while Mrs. Fussy and I stay home and observe the Passover laws. Since corn is technically not chametz, one of the five forbidden grains, I’ll be mixing the squash with polenta for a lovely passover-friendly dish.

I’ll try and find a way to make it a bit more savory. Perhaps some parmesan rinds tossed into the polenta liquid will do the trick. But it will be nice to have a break from matzoh for a night, and to have a polenta dinner where the kids won’t spend the evening picking at their food.

Despite how it sounds, we don’t completely capitulate to the children’s culinary wants. There are rules. Pretty elaborate rules in fact. But still, dinner is a lot more pleasant when everyone truly enjoys the food that’s in front of them. So, I do my best to find things that will please the whole family.

It may be an impossible task. But that’s never stopped me before.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jack C permalink
    April 6, 2015 10:59 am

    I remember I made a sweet potato au gratin for Thanksgiving a few years back and it was very well-received by the kids in my family, despite not being very sweet or sounding all that appetizing at first glance. Not sure if it’s Passover kosher, but I imagine you could do something similar with chunks of acorn squash (the sweet potatoes were scalloped). It certainly strikes a sweet-savory balance.

  2. April 7, 2015 5:46 am

    I was super picky when I was a kid and My 7 year old daughter has sadly, followed in my footsteps. She’ll eat most of the kid friendly veggies such as peas, carrots, corn, green beans, and she does like broccoli too. But they must be simply prepared with just butter and salt. She’ll eat squash begrudgingly, if we douse it in maple syrup. She loves sweet potatoes, but like the squash, maple syrup must be involved.

    We recently have gotten her to eat salad. She likes light colored greens, the dark greens scare her off, and she loves our homemade salad dressing, of walnut oil, rice wine vinegar, and honey.

    By the way, the kid is a parm-reg fiend. She loves for me to cut off a big hunk for her to gnaw on whenever I’m cooking with it.

  3. April 7, 2015 4:08 pm

    Try chopping the squash into cubes & roasting with olive oil & salt. My kids like almost every winter vegetable that way.

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